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February 8, 2023

Charges mount for Hwy projectiles suspect

SALINAS—Charles Lafferty, the suspect in the projectile case that injured five people and left dozens of vehicles with shattered windows since February, was back in court Monday where he pled not guilty to 79 charges.

Shackled at the wrists and ankles and garbed in striped orange and white prison attire, Lafferty, 52, of Nipomo, in Judge Julie Culvert’s courtroom was told that 74 of those charges include assault with a deadly weapon. He is also facing charges of assault on an officer and child abuse, said Matthew L’Heureux, Monterey County Deputy District Attorney.

Culvert raised Lafferty’s bail to $517,000.

California Highway Patrol Coastal Division Chief LD Maples said the agency believes Lafferty used a slingshot and glass marbles to commit the crimes. 

He was arrested Jan. 22. 

The CHP identified a white GMC Sonoma pickup as a suspect vehicle and traced it to residences in San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties.

In December of last year, 11 cars were hit in the span of three days, including a Carmel High School bus carrying a football team to a game. 

The attacks hit dozens of vehicles traveling on highways 156 and 101 in Prunedale and San Benito County.

The CHP and Monterey County Sheriff’s Office have investigated 69 incidents since Feb. 19, 2019.

Investigators do not believe a firearm was used in the attacks.

Lafferty will be back in court on Feb. 18 and 20 for preliminary hearings, L’Heureux said.

Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.

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